Times 26455 – Off with the hillbillies!

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic
It may be the Fourth of July, but I detected a distinctly Australian flavour to this puzzle, what with 13 down, 16 across and 28 across. Be all that as it may, I failed miserably on my return to blogging duties, coming a cropper on the admittedly tricky 21d/23a intersection. It turned out to be one of those junctions where there’s only one way to the destination – that is, unless you happen to know the little mammal. But 23 is a tremendous clue – whether one needs to cheat to get it like me or not – and rounds off what I feel to be a top-class puzzle with lots of zip and creativity.

A microcosm of England at its best, which sadly seems to be when we have a Johnny Foreigner at the helm. Does Eddie Jones have a brother who could have a go at raising the round-ball team from laughing stock to the kind of good old fashioned mediocrity that served us all so well in the past?

Oh, and as for Brexit, I find myself with Noel Gallagher, who, in redacted form, is of the opinion that this sort of thing is best left to the politicians to decide. After all, there must be some reason we pay them…


1. BIG-DEAL – GREAT + DEAL (a port in Kent near Sandwich); the literal is ‘So what!’
5. ALCOPOP – COP (‘rozzer’; ancient slang for a policeman, much like its better known cruciverbal cousin ‘tidy’) in A + LOP.
9. PEA – PEA[r].
10. TEMPUS FUGIT – anagram* of MUST GET UP IF.
11. ALTERING – RING with ALT (computer key) + E (musical key).
12. ONWARD – literal ‘ahead’; I managed to put ‘inward’, which I’m putting down to the jet lag, since it will have reached its expiry date as an excuse by the next time I blog.
15. EARN – sounds like ‘urn’. Which reminds me of the dreadful joke ‘What’s a Grecian urn?’ / ‘I don’t know – I’m too polite to ask’. I said it was dreadful.
16. FAIR DINKUM – a write-in for any Antipodean of even average intelligence, which doesn’t exclude too many, I think it’s fair to say. IF I AM DRUNK*. Literal ‘just (as in equitable) in Australia’.
18. MISCELLANY – IS + CELL (‘container of honey’) in MANY (‘heaps’) .
19. PELT – literal is ‘hide’ (as in animal skin); ‘shower’ needs here, I think, be taken as a verb, as in ‘The seats showered down onto the pitch after the team’s elimination’. I have a slight problem with this, as ‘pelt’ typically refers to rain, snow and hail, while ‘shower’ typically refers to anything bar the above. Maybe I am missing something.
22. AROUSE – literal ‘thrill’ (verb); [mistres]S in A + ROUE (The Sound of Music’s libertine in ‘16 going on 17’).
23. DYNAMITE – a very nice cryptic definition, which was far too good for me.
27. EAT – hidden; literal ‘put away’.
28. SINGLET – LET follows SING (‘grass’ as in rat on); literal ‘jersey’. I always thought a singlet was a vest – with short sleeves, typically – and that a jersey was a pullover – with long sleeves – but I am no dedicated follower of fashion, as Ray Davies might put it.


1. BIPLANE – literal ‘flier’; PLAN in B[e]I[g]E.
2. GRAN TURISMO – GRANT (general turned president) + [Leon] URIS + MO.
4. LAMENTABLE – ‘woeful’; LA MEN TABLE. As groanworthy wordplay goes, this is on a par with my Greek joke.
5. ARUM – A + RUM for a perennial plant, at least in the crossword sphere. I have no idea what one looks like in real life, and if I look it up on Google, I would forget almost immediately, so will persist in my state of blissful ignorance.
7. PIG – literal ‘gannet’ (as in one who stuffs his or her face), consisting of two crossword ‘goods’ (PI + G[ood]).
8. POTSDAM – reversal of MAD and STOP for the place best known for its conference.
13. ANKLE-BITERS – [princ]E + ALBERTS KIN* gives the Aussie/US slang terms for children.
14. GRANNY FLAT – NY + FLA in GRANT (making its second appearance).
17. HERSCHEL – literal ‘astronomer (Sir John of that ilk); HERS + CHEL[sea].
18. MEASLES – A + S[ocia]L in SEEM reversed; literal ‘disease’. Good clue.
20. TRENTON – TRENT (‘rover’) + ON (‘next to’, as in ‘They live on the ocean’); capital of New Jersey.
21. DASSIE – a shrew-like mammal, most improbably related to the elephant (also known as hyrax, a useful Scrabble word); ASS (‘equine’) in DIE (‘peter out’).
24. KNIT – K + NIT.
25. VAN – double definition.

49 comments on “Times 26455 – Off with the hillbillies!”

  1. The last 3′ or so spent on 21d. Hyraxes (hyraces?) I knew of; and the ones I know are pretty hefty for a shrew, but anyway most definitely DNK DASSIE, and it took a while to come up with it. Biffed 2d from GRANT and def. Do Americans use ANKLE-BITER?
    1. Yes, according to the bloke at ODO who is employed specifically to wind them up by ascribing to them usages unknown to them.
  2. Like our blogger today I also came up short on this one. I got there in the end but after resorting to aids to solve 23 and 17. Only then did I work out DASSIE which I’ve never heard of before. Pleased to remember GRAN TURISMO from a previous occasion.

    Edited at 2016-07-04 04:51 am (UTC)

  3. … on DASSIE, my LOI. Though I think I’ve seen the fish incarnation before.

    Not happy with SINGLET as a jersey (28ac). I’m wearing a genuine Australian one now and it’s what Poms call a vest and is better known here as a Jackie Howe: http://jackiehowe.com.au/3.html.
    Or, sometimes, the less PC “wife beater”. Though, to be fair, the Oxfords allow non-Oz meanings. The words “instead of” might be important in this context:
    “chiefly Brit. a sleeveless garment worn under or instead of a shirt”.

    Now I think on … there’s also the sleeveless Australian football jersey/guernsey which is somewhat singlet-like.

    Equally unhappy with FAIR DINKUM as “just”.
    It’s more like “genuine” (adj), or “Really?” (interrogative), or “I kid you not!” (exclamatory).
    Comes from the Vic. goldfields; “dinkum” being a corruption of a Chinese word for “gold”.
    Or so I’ve been told.
    The entry for “dinkum” in Ramson (AND) is interesting: http://australiannationaldictionary.com.au.

    Would have got TRENTON a bit quicker had it got a mention in a Springsteen song.

    On edit, there’s this: https://www.discogs.com/Bruce-Springsteen-Greetings-From-Trenton-NJ/release/3829831

    Edited at 2016-07-04 06:48 am (UTC)

    1. Also commonly used to express exasperation. “What? We’re going back to the polls again in three months time? Fair dinkum”. Delivered in this context with a slightly breathless despair.
    2. Fair dinkum certainly isn’t just, and certainly still used. Football jumpers, always jumpers… no-one here calls them jerseys? For me jerseys are a specific style of navy blue, woollen jumper as worn by Jersey fishermen, briefly popular amongst my schoolmates 40 years ago.

  4. I don’t think of 28ac SINGLET as particularly Aussie. Back in the day in Blighty we wore them for PE – but they had to be white!

    16ac FAIR DINKUM (WOD) certainly is Oz-speak but I am told it is only used by persons over the age of over 105!

    I got home bang on 30 minutes. My last two in were 23ac DYNAMITE and 21dn DASSIE – here I was initially looking for anagram of the word SAFE (Peter out). FOI 7dn PIG and then quickly all the other three letter offerings.


    Nice n’easy Monday with interesting anagrams aplenty – but wasn’t to sure about the use of Salad in 18ac. My Mum’s salads were hardly a miscellany!

    horryd Shanghai

    1. As far as I’m aware indirect anagrams aren’t allowed in Times cryptics. I tried, very briefly, to work in SAFE as a container.
      1. Yep … wrong again.
        Use it all the time and hear it down at the Mundijong pub every other day.
  5. I was on the Australian wavelength and was set for a sub-5 minute time on this one until I came a cropper at the 21dn/23ac intersection, spending a minute or two running through possibilities for each. 7 and a half minutes total then. Really liked this – excellent, light-hearted fun to start the week with.
  6. DNF because of DASSIE which made DYNAMITE a bit difficult. For -Y—I-E, all I could think of was AYRSHIRE – which is in the sticks? Good crossword with good anagrams e.g. 10a, 16a and 6d.

    What’s a Grecian urn? …… whatever the Germans pay them.

  7. I was under 10 minutes until I got to the same place as everyone else got stuck. I also thought of AYRSHIRE but it didn’t really seem to have anything to do with the clue. But completely fair. Never heard of DASSIE and without the checker I was never going to get it. I assumed that E must be an abbreviation for equine in some context, which didn’t help
  8. Simiar story as everyone else… had to alphabet run to get DYNAMITE and then DASSIE (surely that had to be a momble…?) through wp. All done in about 30mins.
  9. I never enter a solution until I can parse it and I couldn’t justify the second “a” . Is FLA kosher ?
    1. The very first line of Lou Reed’s “Walk on the Wild Side” is “Holly came from Miami, F.L.A.”.
  10. 30′ dnf, defeated totally by 23ac/21d like others. Even with DYNAMITE would not have got DASSIE, must remember. Some difficult clues for a Monday! COD 18a. Thanks setter and blogger.
  11. 45 minutes for me, so not my fastest Monday. On the other hand, I’m not well, and at least it distracted me from the shivers and sore throat.

    I got DYNAMITE fairly quickly, which made DASSIE fall into place even though I’d not heard of it. It’s a good job I’d vaguely heard the name HERSCHEL, as I had to come here to get the “team” wordplay. That was my second-from-last-one in, with my LOI being PELT, which took me a few more minutes to work out than one might expect. COD LAMENTABLE, for the groan factor.

    Thanks, as ever, for the enlightenment.

    Edited at 2016-07-04 09:04 am (UTC)

  12. A sedate 22.43, digitally enhanced from 0 to 1 in the error column by the elite “error” that only Ulaca and I achieved: I was well ahead on the INWARD 9, one of those entries that only sort of feels right, needing to be in a particularly quirky puzzle to stand a chance. I’m not arguing for a review (honest!) but it seemed at least possible, until I saw, after submitting, the ON- variant.
    DASSIE’s made up, inserted into the dictionary overnight under that secret arrangement the Times has with Collins, Chambers et al. It’ll have disappeared by tomorrow, mark my words.
    Oh, and Jersey, sleeves. Singlet, no sleeves. Some singlets, not much of anything. Not that it matters that much, especially if I can be allowed INWARDS. Fair dinkum.

    Edited at 2016-07-04 09:32 am (UTC)

  13. 30 minutes, with last 10 spent on 23a and 21d, twigged DYNAMITE eventually but admit to using an aid to find the unknown DASSIE (which could have got from wordplay, really). So no legal score today.Nice puzzle though, with jersey = singlet worth a raised eyebrow.
  14. I also got stuck on 21dn/23ac at the end after an otherwise rapid solve, even though when I got it I realized I had heard of a DASSIE before. I think I spent longer on my LOI in today’s Rufus in the Guardian though – Plate of fish: S_A_E. Obvious when you spot it but a horrible set of letters to go blank on!
  15. Was going ok until I ground to a halt, like others apparently, on the DASSIE / DYNAMITE crossing.

    No complaints though, should have got DYNAMITE from the checkers. Nice work again setter.

    Ulaca, funny you should mention it, I think Australia’s best football coach across all codes is Ange Postecoglou, coach of the national soccer team. He could probably move to London and share a flat with Eddie Jones and Trevor Bayliss.

    I mentioned last week that we’re happy to throw in Tony Abbott as well to help the Tories out. In fact you can keep him if you want.

    1. Oh, and Kevin Rudd for your Labour Party. Anything to help the mother country.
      1. Bayliss – damn, I forgot him.

        Politics wise, you have that woman too, so I reckon you beat us on the political management as well as the sporting management front.

        Mind you, Corbyn counts double, no?

  16. Indeed another usage!
    Hoped I get a comment from a fair dinkum Aussie.
    I’m just working on experience as a blow-in cunning linguist.
  17. Forty minutes after a struggle in SW and not knowing DASSIE. Good job HERSCHEL appeared although describing Chelsea as a team was pushing it last year. LOI MISCELLANY.
    1. I think one needs to remember that the setter’s job is to deceive us without actually lying. Now, if he’d used England…
  18. 20m, with ages at the end on the same two as everyone else. 23ac is a very good clue: utterly impenetrable until suddenly it’s blindingly obvious. I also wasted time at the top where I had somehow managed to type in TEMPIS FUGIT and didn’t notice for ages. So 5dn also went from utterly impenetrable to blindingly obvious, but the setter doesn’t get credit for that one.
  19. DNF because I neither knew nor was able to parse DASSIE (in hindsight, I should have been able to). Both William and Johannes Herschel are buried in the north aisle of Westminster Abbey alongside Charles Darwin and just a few feet from Isaac Newton, quite a collection!
  20. 19:30. Same story here, held up considerably by DASSIE/DYNAMITE. After I’d decided DASSIE was likely from the cryptic, a run through the alphabet for the first letter of 23A gave me DYNAMITE. I’d also considered AYRSHIRE before I had DASSIE.

    Aided by popular culture today – GRAN TURISMO from the video game and POTSDAM from the reference to Potsdamer Platz in Bowie’s Where Are We Now?

    1. Popular culture FTW, as the kids say. I’m pretty sure my familiarity with TRENTON came from watching The Sopranos.
      1. Also home town of Stephanie Plum, heroine of Janet Evanovich’s series of books.
        DNF on the same 2 as everyone else, otherwise not too hard.
  21. Same here – 30m DNF as stuck at the DASSIE/DYNAMITE corner. Also blind guess at TRENTON. Hey ho always tomorrow.
  22. Having spent the last 23 years of my working life doing stuff for a NJ multinational and having to appear there every 3 months or so for a week or two (the Westfield Inn, Westfield, yay!) TRENTON was a write-in. Unsure about DASSIE but crossed fingers. Agree that there is an Aussie slant today but no problem.
  23. 17 mins but I’d have been a bit quicker if I hadn’t taken the knock with a few to go. It took me a while to parse HERSCHEL and see MISCELLANY, and like almost everyone else I was left with 23ac/21dn. Although I was pretty sure of what the wordplay was telling me to do at 21dn I was aware that without the final checker from 23ac both DASSIE and “diasse” would fit, even though the latter looked a lot less likely. Thankfully the penny for DYNAMITE eventually dropped. I thought this puzzle was a lot of fun so thanks for the entertainment, setter.
  24. Beaten by DYNAMITE. I was convinced that there had to be a “ye” in it (“the” sticks [into] “far from”).

    I’m trying to work out whether the fact that I remembered DASSIE from somewhere is a positive indicator for the quality of my memory; or the fact that I can’t remember where I remember it from is a negative indicator.

    Edited at 2016-07-04 09:12 pm (UTC)

  25. What am I missing? Fair dinkum is not an anagram of this!

    BIFD because what else and saw the anagrist. Very rare I come to the blog and still leave confused!!!!


  26. 17:54 for me, struggling, like others, with 23ac and 21dn. The annoying thing is that I’d come across DASSIE before (though only in crosswords) but got cold feet, imagining that I was actually thinking of DASYURE (another crossword beastie). In the end I used the speculative A it provided to get DYNAMITE, though even then I was spooked by all those nasty vowels.
  27. 23a gave me no trouble at all: I saw at once that it must be SYBARITE. Sybarites aren’t dull (I reasoned) and yet the ancient town of Sybaris was in the sticks … or something. I know. In hindsight it doesn’t looks too convincing.

    This was one of those slinking, lowdown puzzles that lure you in with write-ins like VAN and then when they’ve got you all relaxed go and slosh you round the head with complete unknowns like DASSIE. Most of it took me 20 mins, but the chewy stuff I did in bits and bobs through the evening. Fair dinkum to the setter.

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